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Published On: Sun, Feb 24th, 2019

Philippines: President Duterte signs Universal Health Care into law

It was announced as breaking news on the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) Facebook page:

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Universal Health Care (UHC) into law. This is a landmark legislation, almost 30 years in the making, that will bring the much needed reform to the health care system in the Philippines.

Thank you to our colleagues at the Congress and Senate as well as our partners in the civil society. This is a success for all Filipinos! 

Image/Philippines DOH

DOH acknowledges the consistent support from legislators and different stakeholders from civil society organizations, local government units, other national government agencies, and international partners in pushing for the UHC Act.

“Health is everybody’s business. Health systems only work when everyone works together to ensure that no one is left behind,” says Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.

UHC is both a vision and a commitment to the health of all Filipinos by providing the full range of high quality health care services – from preventive to promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative – at affordable cost. The signing of the UHC Act is a remarkable achievement as it marks the beginning of a new chapter in the reform of the Philippine health system. These include operationalizing primary health care and mainstreaming health promotion to protect people from disease, empowering individuals and communities to maintain good health, and supporting effective management of illness and disability. It will shift the health system’s current treatment-oriented approach towards a more balanced approach emphasizing prevention and health promotion.

Among the significant reforms that will be implemented over time include: automatic enrollment of all Filipinos to PhilHealth; designating PhilHealth as the national purchaser for health goods and services for individuals, such as medicines; improvement of health facilities especially in underserved areas; responding to the gap in health workers throughout the country; strategic engagement of the private sector; and creating and expanding new functions in DOH to improve the delivery of health services.

“We thank the commitment of our Senators and Congresspersons to legislating for the people’s health, and the President’s fulfillment of his promise to improve the healthcare system of the country for the benefit of all Filipinos. Let us harness this momentum, walang iwanan at sama-sama tayo tungo sa UHC! Secretary Duque added. The period for drafting the law’s implementing rules and regulations immediately follows its signing with public consultations and multi-sectoral dialogues scheduled in the coming months.

To ensure the implementation of this comprehensive and long-term reform, the Department of Health is also actively working for higher excise taxes on both tobacco and alcohol, and seeks the support of all legislators who made UHC possible to also advocate for and support the passage of these twin landmark health reforms of smart taxes for health.

The DOH said on Facebook: Health is a human right, no matter your gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or age. Universal health care means ensuring that all Filipinos can get the health services they need, without discrimination or financial hardship.

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